The Northern Elders Forum (NEF) says the Igbo should be allowed to secede from Nigeria if that is what the south-east wants.
The proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and the Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) are campaigning for the secession of the south-east from Nigeria.
IPOB was formed in 2012 by Nnamdi Kanu, while MASSOB was founded in 1999 by Ralph Uwazuruike.
Addressing journalists after a closed-door meeting held in Abuja on Monday, Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, spokesman of the forum, said the agitation by the Igbo for secession has become widespread, adding that the leaders in the state appear to support the decision.
Baba-Ahmed advised that standing in the way of the agitators will only worsen the insecurity in the country.
“This nation has had to fight a terrible war to preserve the country. The north had paid its dues in that war, as indeed it did in many ways throughout the history of the country. Under our current circumstances, no Nigerian should welcome another war to keep the country together,” he said.
“The forum has arrived at the difficult conclusion that if support for secession among the Igbo is as widespread as it is being made to look, and Igbo leadership appears to be in support of it, then the country should be advised not to stand in its way.
“It will not be the best choice for the Igbo or Nigerians to leave a country we have all toiled to build and a country we all have the responsibility to fix, but it will not help a country already burdened with failures on its knees to fight another war to keep the Igbo in Nigeria.”
The forum warned that attacks and killings of northerners, federal government employees, and destruction of national assets must stop, adding that those involved must be arrested and prosecuted.
The northern elders also noted that until the Igbo decide whether it wants to secede or remain part of Nigeria, the law applies to it, as the federal and state governments have a responsibility to enforce the law and protect citizens.
They also supported the calls for northerners who are exposed to harassment and violence, to consider relocating to the north. They, however, advised that all Igbo and other ethnic groups residing in the north should be accorded the usual hospitality and security.
They, however, advised that all Igbo and other ethnic groups residing in the north should be accorded the usual hospitality and security. (The Cable)
The Northern Elders Forum (NEF) has advised Fulani herdsmen to return to the northern region if their security could no more be guaranteed in their host communities.
The group also told northern governors to get themselves prepared to receive the Fulanis being ejected from southern states.
NEF Director of Publicity and Advocacy, Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, in a statement yesterday, said the relocation advice became necessary following alleged attack on Fulani herders, families and communities in some states of the south.
The statement reads in part: “NEF is deeply worried by reports of ejections, under threats and attacks, of Fulani herders, families and communities in some states of the south.
The forum has been receiving these reports since the night of Sunday, January 31, and has taken the responsible step by drawing the attention of authorities to the dangers, which these attacks represent for all Nigerians.
“We have also advised law-abiding Fulani communities to seek protection where it is available, and have appealed to other Fulani to resist temptation to take the law into their own hands.
“It is necessary to warn people who threaten law-abiding Fulani communities in all parts of Nigeria, but particularly in some parts of the South, to desist.
Majority of Fulani are law-abiding and have rights to live lawfully wherever they can find means of subsistence.
“The Fulani will not be ejected from any Nigerian community only on the basis of being Fulani or herding cattle within the limits of laws and regulations.
States that seek to limit criminal activities are perfectly entitled to do so, but they must follow due process, and avoid exposing innocent citizens to danger at all cost.
The forum demands that the Nigeria Police must live up to its constitutional responsibility to detect crimes and arrest and prosecute criminals, whoever they are.”
Northern Elders Forum, NEF, have said they were aware of alleged attempts by some politicians interested in contesting the 2023 presidential election to weaken the North on many fronts in the aftermath of #EndSARS protest.
The Forum also said it had credible information about an alleged plan to force restructuring on the North under the guise of ending the agitation against bad governance in the country.
NEF’s Director, Publicity and Advocacy, Dr. Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, in a statement on Wednesday night, said that the North was capable of identifying and protecting its own interests, and would neither be blackmailed nor intimidated into accepting restructuring as a means to higher standards of justice, better security, and progress for all Nigerians.
He said, “The Forum is aware of attempts to weaken the North by interests that believe that this is their only path to success in the 2023 elections.
“These interests should know that the North will neither be blackmailed nor intimidated, and we are quite capable of identifying and protecting our own interests.
“Some of these interests seek to exploit our plural nature and deepen what they see as divisions. They will fail, because northerners know that what unites us is a lot stronger than what divides us.
“Others create the impression that the North is opposed to the country being restructured along lines that will improve the quality of our union, ensure higher standards of justice, better security and progress for all Nigerians. These too will fail.
“The North is ready to discuss all elements of our co-existence, but will not be stampeded into submitting to other interests who feel uncomfortable with a strong and united North, or blackmailing us to adopt their versions of our future.”
NEF also said it was disappointed that last week’s meeting in Kaduna by Northern Governors, high-level federal government officials and traditional rulers barely made mention of the insecurity of communities within the region The elders said the focus of the meeting on the potential for abuse of social media platforms and the possibility of hoodlums hijacking the #EndSARS protest in many cities of the south was uncalled for.
Baba-Ahmed said, “That meeting missed a historic opportunity to acknowledge that northern communities are in dire need of improved security, and to give firm and specific assurances that our leaders care about northern lives and will take steps to protect us.
“We took particular note of the pivotal roles of governors and traditional rulers at that meeting, leaders who are thoroughly familiar with daily assaults by insurgents, bandits and kidnappers on northerners.
“These are leaders who should have understood the high hopes which northerners attached to a meeting of that nature in Kaduna, and they should understand that the impression left by that meeting and the frenzy of activities in parts of the south involving some northern leaders to show sympathy for damage from hoodlums leaves only one conclusion in the mind of northerners: northern lives do not matter.”
The Forum noted the efforts of President Muhammadu Buhari to improve engagements with northern leaders, and hoped that these will not be public relations stunts in place of real efforts aimed at improving the security of the region.
“The Forum advises the President and Governors to engage a broad spectrum of leaders, elders and the young in the North to contribute to an appreciation of the dangers which our communities live with on a daily basis, and enlist them as partners in the search for solutions,” the statement added.
Meanwhile, the Northern elders paid tribute to its Director-General, Dr Yima Sen, who died recently, describing his services to the Forum as invaluable.
The Northern Elders Forum has advised Nigerians not to be tired of demanding for the restructuring of the country from the present government.
The Forum said the Nigerian state has failed, especially in the management of security, hence the need to revisit the way the country is structured to provide security for citizens.
The PUNCH had earlier reported that the General Overseer of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, Pastor Enoch Adeboye, had on Saturday called on the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.) to restructure the country “as soon as possible”.
Adeboye, who spoke at a symposium alongside the Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi; former Governor of Cross River State and former presidential aspirant, Donald Duke; and a former Minister of Education, Oby Ezekwesili, warned that it was either the country restructured as soon as possible or it broke up.
“You don’t have to be a prophet to know that one,” he added.
The Presidency, in a reaction on Sunday night, had described the calls as “recurring threats to the corporate existence of the country”.
But speaking on Tuesday morning while featuring on Channels Television programme, Sunrise Daily, NEF spokesperson, Dr Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, insisted that the country must be restructured to address fundamental issues that ought to have been addressed since Nigeria gained independence.
He noted, “The two basic functions of the state are to secure citizens and provide for their welfare. Now, the Nigerian state is failing in both camps. So, restructuring for us means addressing those failures and identifying ideas, suggestions, and changes that can actually fit into the process of improving them.
“Policing is a fundamental issue. Here in the north where I come from, you could spend three days with bandits ravaging communities and you will not see a single policeman. Something is wrong with the way the country is structured to provide security for citizens. So, we need to revisit some of these issues.”
The NEF spokesperson stressed that the Nigerian constitution must be revised to “deal with issues that divide Nigerians rather than unite them.”
He said, “We need to look at our constitution, look at the way it provides for the Nigerian state, the federating units, allocate responsibilities in power, the works of vital institutions, or the failure of vital institutions to work and how we can improve them.
“When we make demands for the restructuring of the country, we are not necessarily saying that the government is deliberately causing the problems – they are cumulative issues, matters that should have been addressed a long time ago but they were not addressed. Nations must accept to revisit how they live.
“Nigerians have a right to ask for changes, for amendment, for improvement in the manner in which we live. There is nothing wrong with that. What is wrong is for the government to specifically say we don’t want to hear anything about restructuring.
“Right now, no one will dispute that the federal government carries too many responsibilities most of which it doesn’t discharge, has too many resources and is not well run. It has become a focus of intense competition. The type of competition that makes the political system unstable. Everybody wants the Presidency. Everybody wants to go to Abuja. Abuja is everything. This is wrong.”
Baba-Ahmed noted that “many conferences whose recommendations have not been implemented need to be implemented.”
“We believe that Nigerians should never (be) tired about demanding that their country must be made to work. If the government is not going to do it on its own, it needs assistance. If it needs some pressure, we believe we can provide that pressure,” he concluded. (Punch)
The Northern Elders Forum has said that the North has never agitated for the breakup of the country, hence, it does not have any plan for it.
This is just as a member of Northern Elders Forum (NEF), Hakeem Baba-Ahmed expressed disappointment in the leadership style of Northern peoples who hold various political offices in the country.
Making the assertion on Monday, a former presidential candidate of the defunct National Republican Convention (NRC) party Bashir Othman Tofa, during the inauguration of students’ wing of Northern Youth Groups, organised by Coalition of Northern Youth held at Bayero University, Kano.
According to him, “If you look at our population and what we have together is more than what anyone can hope for. So to try to destroy this is certainly a lose-lose situation. That is why we here in the North would never say we want to leave this country. “
His words “If you examine the situation, you would find out it is only in Northern Nigeria that there is no agitation for the breakup of this country”
He said that the unity of the country is sacrosanct, adding that the North has been playing the role of encouraging the unity of Nigeria “That is why we are the root of this country. If the root is uprooted, the tree will not be there.
He then added that so we like to be patient, we like to encourage Nigerians to love their country to be united and tolerate one another. So that we can build a kind of country we like to build.”
He then advised Northerners to exercise patience in building the unity of the country, as they are the root of Nigeria’s unity.
It is Northern Nigeria that doesn’t have any specific plan of its own, in case Nigeria is divided. This means we have absolute confidence that being together is the best thing for all of us.”
Our responsibility is to exercise patience to make sure we guide this country to the kind of unity and progress we need to develop into a better country and even become a nation-state,” Mr Tofa said.
A member of Northern Elders Forum (NEF), Hakeem Baba-Ahmed expressed disappointment in the leadership style of Northern peoples who hold various political offices in the country.
His words Northerners who hold different political positions had failed to address the region’s problems in areas considered to be of paramount importance for the region.
“We are disappointed with our northern leaders at all levels. We will be putting pressure on them to correct their mistakes of tackling the problem of insecurity, poor quality of education and health, the problem of economy among others.”
Alhaji Baba-Ahmed then charged northern governors to provide shelter for cattle headers in the zone to stop them from wondering about anyhow.
However, on the occasion, three regional coordinators for Northwest, Northeast and Northcentral geopolitical zones were inaugurated during the event.
Subscribe to The Republican News. Advertise with us. Call us for press release, enquiries. Email: RepublicanNewsNetwork1@gmail.com, phone: +32497220468, +23481819650279, +32466100102
President Muhammadu Buhari, has enjoined all Fulani herdsmen to ignore the recent call by the Northern Elders Forum, NEF, asking them to leave the Southern part of Nigeria.
According to a statement by the President’s Spokesperson, Garba Shehu, on Wednesday night, Buhari said that all citizens of Nigeria are free to move and live within any part of the country they please, whether or not they are originally from there.
“In line with our country’s Constitution, the government of Nigeria and the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari will protect citizens of Nigeria wherever they find themselves.
“No one has the right to ask anyone or group to depart from any part of the country, whether North, South, East, or West”, Shehu quoted the President as saying. The Presidential Aide questioned the intentions of the NEF and the other so-called Leaders, in delving into issues with unsolicited, ill-intentioned advice.
Shehu said: “They have no one’s authority to make such pronouncements.
“The polarising role of the Northern Elders Forum and all those other groups dabbling into issues of security to score cheap political points, has for long been a sore point in Nigeria’s body polity.
“They should not be allowed to mislead anyone, least of all the Fulani herders.
“The Buhari administration is fully devoted to finding a lasting solution to the herder-farmer clashes in different parts of Nigeria; one that would be acceptable to all the parties involved.’’
Shehu quoted the President as calling on all Nigerians to help keep the peace in the country. (Post Nigeria)
Subscribe to The Republican News. Advertise with us. Call us for press release, enquiries. Email: RepublicanNewsNetwork1@gmail.com, phone: +32466100102, +2348189650279, +32497220468
Former leader of the Northern Elders Forum (NEF), Paul Unongo has said that many Nigerians are worried that what they see now does not look like the President Muhammadu Buhari they know.
The self-acclaimed Spiritual Leader of the Tiv nation stated this on Thursday when he spoke on a Channels TV programme, Sunrise Daily, adding that he cannot explain why people are having such feelings about President Buhari.
Unongo was responding to questions bothering on former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s recent letter to Buhari when he made the statement.
He said, “I tend not to agree with him (Obasanjo) wholesome, but I know both persons and I have interacted with both persons fairly closely. Although, people are saying Obasanjo is playing politics, but it’s good politics and it defines him.
“If you look back into recent history, he did similar thing in the cases of Yar’Adua and Jonathan and he’s doing same to his fellow comrade in arm. I think Obasanjo is being Obasanjo. He’s truthful in the pursuit of what he believes in what is the best interest of Nigeria.
“I think people should not react to his letter emotionally because he participated in bringing Buhari on board. I felt the letter was an opportunity for the Federal Government to explain some of the strange things that are happening in Nigeria. I know Buhari and I worked very hard to bring him into power.
“We saw him with Idiagbon and he made decisions that were very patriotic and implemented them right away.
“Obasanjo decided to cry out because Buhari seems to have being shortchanged by some people managing him. The letter seems to be a wakeup call for him to sit up.
“I think friends of Mr. President, including me, should be bold enough to tell him that something is getting wrong. And Obasanjo went straight and say, if this has anything to do with your health don’t present yourself to election come 2019.
“If I were Obasanjo, I wouldn’t go that far. He (Buhari) has not presented himself yet (for re-election). If it were an advice to be taken, it could have been given privately because he (Obasanjo) has direct access to Mr. President.
“But I think a lot of people are worried that what they are seeing now does not look like the person they know. It’s something we cannot explain except we juxtapose the illness, that he was really sick and that the illness affected him, which led to, in my judgment, the sort of suggestion Obasanjo had made.
“I would have said let’s wait, if he indicates to ask some of his friends that he is going to context again, I think that that suggestion of Obasanjo is relevant, we should discuss it.”
On possible replacement for Buhari from the North, Unongo said that there are over a thousand politicians who can replace Buhari. He listed former governor of Kano State, Rabiu Kwankwaso, erstwhile Vice President Atiku Abubakar, Borno State Governor Kashim Shettima and some others as his possible replacement.
The elder statesman however warned that should 2019 presidential election be narrowed down to Buhari and Atiku, who had already indicated interest, that the incumbent president will emerge winner.
“There are over a thousand credible persons who can lead Nigeria from the North.
“Former governor of Kano, Rabiu Kwankwaso, people are even saying Shettima should be given a chance because of the way he handled the Boko Haram case in Borno. And of course, former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, has already indicated interest but from my observation, if you narrow down the election to Atiku and Buhari, latter would still win.”
The Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF), leader of the Northern Elders Forum (NEF), Dr Paul Unongo, and the Arewa Youths Consultative Forum are not on the same page with Northern Elders Forum (NEF) chieftain, Professor Ango Abdullahi, on his position that Nigerians should “go our separate ways.”
The former vice chancellor of the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, has also come under attack from the youth wing of Igbo socio-cultural group, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, which called his view “very, very unfortunate and unexpected from a man of his calibre.”
Abdullahi, speaking on Wednesday at a public debate in Kaduna had said the best option for the country was a return to 1914 or 1960 or what he called “let us go our separate ways.”
“If on the other hand we give credit to the British and our founding fathers (and they deserve credit), and we cannot contain restructuring based on what existed in 1914, we should go back to 1960 when the country operated regions. The north is not afraid of getting our north back,” he said at the forum “The North and the Future of Nigerian Federation”, organized by the Arewa Research and Development Project, in collaboration with Sir Ahmadu Bello Foundation; the Northern Elders Forum; Arewa Consultative Forum; Code Group; Northern Delegates Forum; Arewa Reawakening; Jamiyar Matan Arewa and Forum for Northern Youths Organizations.
Asked yesterday to respond to Abdullahi’s view, the ACF Secretary-General Mr Anthony Sani said Abdullahi was on his own on.
He said: “Prof Ango Abdullahi has the right to air his view, but he is on his own on this matter of public importance.
“As far as we are concerned, the certain benefits of a big and united one Nigeria are more than the uncertain gains of a split.
“It is, therefore, defeatist to allow our temporary challenges to redefine our cherished common destiny and set our collective agenda.
“Nigerians must know that in the mechanism of community living, victory and defeat are never final. Our current challenges are not beyond redemption.”
Dr Unongo who heads the NEF of which Abdullahi is a prominent member said that the 1914 amalgamation of Nigeria by Lord Frederick Lugard was not a mistake.
The Second Republic Minister of Steel Development said by phone that though he supports devolution of power to the states, he is totally against any move to break up Nigeria.
His words: “Professor Ango Abdullahi has spoken for himself and he has a right to do so. But, going our separate ways is not the best for this country.
“That we have challenges does not mean that we have not done well in so many other areas.
“Nigeria has done very well as a nation-state. The amalgamation of Nigeria by Lord Lugard is not a mistake because we have come this far as a united country. But, the agitation by the youths and other groups is that we ought to have done better, which the truth.
“Mind you, this situation is like the car we use.There are times we need to change worn-out nuts and others like that. So, the most sensible way of addressing this situation is to address our challenges as a nation.
“So, we should not split this country. Yes, I support devolution of certain power to the states. Let them be given power and resources to develop the states and same to the local governments.
“What I will not support is allowing state police. States should not be allowed to form their own army because states will go to war against each other.”
The national president of the AYCF, Comrade Shettimma Yerima, said the disintegration of the country would do no good to Nigerians and would amount to suicide.
He said: “We respect Professor Ango Abdullahi and he might have his reasons for saying this.
“That is his own opinion and that how he sees it.
“ He saw yesterday but for us who are for today, we really don’t want to reflect on the past because it’s nothing to write home about. We are looking for how we can build a nation, how we can work together to make Nigeria stronger.
“I don’t agree with him that Nigeria should disintegrate. We have more to lose now if the country disintegrates.
“I am of the view that whatever the grudges are, we must know that all hope is not lost. The present generation (of Northerners) strongly believe that we can work together with our brothers from other parts of the country to build a nation where there will be no suspicion, where there will be equity and fairness to all.
“That is what we are looking up to. We are working towards building a nation where all of us will begin to see ourselves as Nigerians.
“This is why the Arewa youths, the Ohanaeze youths and others across the country and working together to make sure peace reigns and that we have a virile nation. Disintegration will amount to total suicide.”
The youth wing of Igbo socio-cultural group, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, also does not share Abdullahi’s view.
In a chat with our correspondent, the President of the OYC, Mazi Okechukwu Isiguzoro, said the statement by Abdullahi was unfortunate.
He said:”As a youth group, we have been working with the Arewa youths and other youth groups in the country to promote peace and cordial relationship among our people.
“Why should Professor Abdullahi now be making such statement that is capable of heating up the polity again and causing needless confusion. We stand for a united Nigeria where equity, fairness and justice shall reign.”
Niger Delta leaders who were also contacted insisted on a fair, just and equitable country as opposed to the break-up canvassed by Prof Abdullahi.
The National Coordinator, Pan Niger Delta Peoples Congress (PNDPC), Chief Mike Loyibo, said though the Southsouth was not afraid of a breakup, the people had unanimously agreed that Nigeria would be better as one entity.
He said the zone would continue to advocate a restructured Nigeria where states would be allowed to control their resources and pay a certain amount of taxes to the Federal Government.
He said they were tired of the current lopsided arrangement where the region which feeds the country, remained marginalized in key security and oil and gas positions.
He said: “Our problem is that of injustice. The constitution itself is defective and we have been long marginalized.
“What we are simply saying is give us true federalism where all the regions are allowed to develop at their own pace. Allow us to control and manage our resources and we pay certain taxes to the government.
“Nobody is afraid of a breakup, after all, Nigeria is a forced marriage.
“ Our position as Niger Delta leaders is that there should be restructuring. We want a structure that will address the injustice we have.
“ I don’t support breakup but I support one Nigeria where there will be justice, equity and every side will be allowed to develop at their own pace.
“ Ango Abdullahi is entitled to his opinion. The other day he said it was not resource control but resource management”
Also speaking, a former President of the Ijaw Youth Council (IYC) Worldwide, Mr Udens Eradiri, said Nigeria would be stronger as a united country.
He said the country urgently needed restructuring to ensure equity and justice adding that devolution of power will enable states to develop at their pace.
He said: “I think Nigeria is stronger as one nation where equity and justice will prevail. It is not difficult to get justice and equity. It is just that leadership is not serious.
“Somebody said something that the mineral resources offshore should belong to the Federal Government while the ones onshore should belong to the state. That could also be the starting point. But the important point is that equity and justice demand that the state must get what belongs to it.
“In any case, Nigeria is failing. States can no longer pay salaries. The federal government is taking 87 percent of the resources after giving 13 percent to states, but cannot sustain infrastructures. Roads are nothing to write home about even in APC states.
“It is not about supporting an administration, it is a system that has failed and that cannot be sustained. It is only common sense that when you are doing something for many years and it is not working, you ought to do it differently.
“ The most important part is that there is a failure of leadership. If we have had clear-headed leadership, we won’t be where we are today.
“Even when we will be restructuring and devolving power, the people must take control of the electoral process. That is the only way you can guarantee responsible leadership. As we are today, it is not working.” (The Nation)
Chairman Northern Elders Forum, Prof. Ango Abdullahi
… North loves Igbos more than no other tribe
ABUJA – Renowned statesman and Chairman, Northern Elders Forum, Prof. Ango Abdullahi says his organisation will work with the Oil and Solid Mineral Producing Communities Landlord Association of |Nigeria, OMPALAN to build bridges across the country and strengthen corporate governance. Prof. Abdullahi made the position known Tuesday during a meeting with OMPALAN leadership led by, Bishop Udo Azogu and other executive members of the group in Zaria.
The meeting which was convened by OMPALAN was aimed at dousing the rising tension in the country and to foster a cordial relationship among all ethnic nationalities and to pursue good corporate governance in the country. Prof. Abdullahi, a former Vice Chancellor of Amadu Bello University, Zaria, while welcoming the OMPALAN proposal on peace building, said his decision to back the Arewa Youths on the quick notice issued to Igbos was born out of accumulated feeling of betrayal of the South Easterners and particularly their political leaders, who failed to caution Nnamdi Kanu and other Biafra agitators but instead gave them full support in their struggle.
The Elder Statesman said he was particularly worried that notable political leaders in the South East like Dr Elex Ekwueme, Emeka Anyaoku, Jim Nwobodo and Mbazulike Amechi among others failed to speak out when the ovation was high but kept mute while the new Biafra agitation spread like wide fire and raged on. He said he was baffled when people started condemning him for making his own support to Arewa Youths open, unlike other Northern leaders who pretended about it.
According to him, the North and Eastern Nigeria had come a long way in terms of building political bridges starting from the first republic when Dr Nnamdi Zik conceded the position of Prime Minister to Tafawa Balewa and in second republic when Dr Alex Ekwueme was supported by the North to become Vice President to Shehu Shagari, a relationship, he said the North had always wanted to resuscitate despite the setbacks it suffered from the three years civil war.
He also revealed that part of their grouse against the Igbo was their failure to appreciate the love shown to them by the North after the Civil War by returning all their abandoned properties back to them in addition to rents collected on their behalf by various caretakers assigned to supervise the affected properties, a favour they (Igbo) could not get from their South-South neighbours who confiscated their properties in Port Harcourt and other South-South cities.
According to him, the Igbo should reciprocate the gesture of the North by supporting them politically rather than turning their back on them. He cited two instances where Igbo showed total rejection of the North when President Mohammadu Buhari chose late Dr Chuba Okadigbo and Edwin Umezeoke in 2007 and 2011 as running mates but was rejected by the Igbos, which led them to switch over to South West in 2015.
Earlier in his opening address, Bishop Azogu said the mission of OMPALAN was to unravel root causes of the rising cases of agitations and hate speeches which had raised tension in the polity and to seek possible means of addressing them. He said OMPALAN saw the various agitations across the country as a manifestation of the failure of leadership by the political class and had decided to work with all ethnic nationalities in the country, including the Northern Elders Forum to save the country from going into precipices.
He informed his host that the proponents of the present Biafra agitation do not enjoy the support of most Igbo and hence the need to refocus their anger on the political class rather than the innocent and poor Igbos. Azogu, who lampooned the South Eastern political class for not taking a common position to condemn the new Biafra struggle ab initio, blamed Prof. Abdullahi for supporting the action of the Arewa Youths Coalition. According to him, such support amount to making a blanket condemnation of the entire Igbo race and urged him to retract his earlier statement.
At the end of the meeting, both parties agreed that: the various crisis across Nigeria were as a result of leadership failure; that the bond of unity in Nigeria is stronger than divisive forces; that the North loves the Igbos which was exemplified by restitution of all properties belonging to Igbos in the North after the Civil War; that OMPALAN and Northern Elders Forum would set up a joint peace committee to douse tension generated by hate speeches and secessionist rhetorics; that there is not enough evidence on ground to justify trillions of naira disbursed through robust palliative programs to the Oil Producing States of Nigeria.
The meeting also agreed that: Oil is a national issue and that due recognition should be given to impacted areas; that Nigeria has been stagnated for over 60 years by corruption and bad governance; that the teeming helpless Igbo people cannot be made to pay for the ineptitude of the region’s political leadership and isolated secessionist rhetorics; that Nigeria to remains as one united and indivisible country where all law-abiding citizens can live and do business in any part of the country without fear of molestation or intimidation; that the quit notice to Igbo’s living in the north to serve as clarion call to the nation’s leaders; that there should be tolerance, accommodation and forgiveness amongst Nigerians.
The meeting further listed Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs, MNDA; Niger Delta Development Commission, NDDC; Oil Derivation Fund Commission and Federal Government Amnesty Program as some of the palliative programs established by government to cushion the harsh environmental impact on oil producing states: Speaking further to Vanguard Newspaper at the end of the meeting, Bishop Azogu said Nigerians are entitled to know the health status of their President. He said Buhari is not the President of APC or any special group but, the elected President of Nigeria with a mandate to steer the ship of State in consonance with the provisions of the nation’s constitution.
According to him, keeping Buhari’s health status secret for a long time is insulting the sensibilities of Nigerians. ‘‘It’s like saying it’s no body’s business. But, Nigerians will not be silent for a long time.
The Governors and other political leaders of the South East have failed the region. They’re unfit to represent the region. This is why some people cashed in on the vacuum created by the rudderless leadership of the region to demand secession. Nobody should be fooled anymore. He said the South East requires a new crop of leadership that can read political barometers accurately and work proactively to protect the interest of the region.
He described Prof Ango Abdullahi as an honest and sincere leader who simply raised alarm to save the country from blood bath and disintegration. ‘‘Other aggrieved leaders in the North saw the country on a dangerous collision course with anarchy and kept mute. Ango Abdullahi’s timely statement was not intended to incite lawlessness but, a clarion call to all Nigerians of all climes to work collaboratively and defend the unity of the Country,’’ he said.